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Agile with Remote Teams

  • Mar 13, 2013 · 5:30 PM
  • DDI

With Marissa Mayer ending the work-from-home policy at Yahoo!, is it time to admit that remote teams are untenable? Or are there strategies you can use to make it work?

I'll talk through the tools and practices I've employed on my team to mitigate the issues with remote communication and collaboration. I'll also address the failures and challenges we currently face along with ideas we're considering for how to deal with them.

I've been working at Autodesk (based in San Francisco) as a Scrum Master for a small team here in Pittsburgh for the past 2 years. We have a team member based out of his home in Utah and have daily interactions with UX, Product Managers, and other Scrum teams in San Francisco and China.


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  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks for the great talk and thanks DDI for hosting!

    One thing I didn't really get much insight on is electronic replacement for sticky notes/notecards as used for backlog creation and management. (This isn't only a remote employee problem - upper management dictates we give them pretty reports with rollups from the backlog anyway)

    We are currently using TFS for the full lifecycle. TFS is way too cumbersome compared to notecards or sketches.. so most of our brainstorming goes on outside of TFS and then we cement a "final" version of whatever it is into the TFS Backlog. I really don't want to do this work twice (or have half of it get lost) and would just like to walk away with a finished product when the brainstorming is done.

    Does anyone have a good tool or process for this?

    1 · March 13, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks guys. I'll check out Pivotal and Trello. As far as what management wants to report on.. just name it and they want it! I think if I can run a sync to get the data out of one of these lightweight brainstorming-friendly tools and into TFS then everyone will be happy. Thanks again!

      March 18, 2013

    • Andrew C.

      Yep - I realized I forgot to mention that in my Tools section. I actually have a little Ruby script I wrote that will synchronize between JIRA and PivotalTracker. This allows us to receive incoming bugs from anyone via JIRA, but still use PivotalTracker to plan and track our sprints.

      I use Trello's API to pull in our epics to Radiator as well, so I know that both Trello and PivotalTracker have pretty good APIs.

      March 19, 2013

  • Andrew C.

    Slides have been posted along with a new slide with references for things like the Inception Deck and Lean Canvas:

    https://speakerdeck.com/coxandrew/agile-with-remote-teams

    1 · March 16, 2013

    • Lou Rainaldi J.

      It says there are not slides published yet.

      March 16, 2013

    • Andrew C.

      Looks like there was a "publish" step I missed; should be good now!

      March 16, 2013

  • Joe DiFalco, Software L.

    Valuable meetup. Thanks Andrew and best of luck with your new gig.

    March 13, 2013

  • Nivia St Surin H.

    Was good trying out Google Hangout. Should keep trying until the kinks are worked out (KaiZen and such...)

    March 13, 2013

  • Bob B.

    Great topic and great tips on improving Agile remote environments.

    March 13, 2013

  • Nivia St Surin H.

    Great topic; compelling speaker; engaged participants; new technology; it was all the right ingredients for a good meet-up!

    March 13, 2013

  • Kim H.

    I thought it was a great talk. Thanks Andrew for your thoughts. Good luck at your next gig.

    March 13, 2013

  • Justin P.

    Thanks for the great talk Andrew, and thanks for the shout out for code and coffee. Here is the link to the site: http://codeandcoffee.info/#ui-tabs-1. The current location should be CommonPlace Coffee in Squirrel Hill (http://www.commonplacecoffee.com/) It is pending an update by the site owner tonight. Please let me know if you are interested, but the location is problematic. We are open to moving to a more central city location if there is a need.


    Also, on a more relevant point, I wanted to point people to some decent remote tips from Scott Hanselman. He has been doing the remote thing for Microsoft for 4+ years now:
    http://www.hanselman.com/blog/BeingARemoteWorkerSucksLongLiveTheRemoteWorker.aspx

    March 13, 2013

  • Tamella F.

    Thanks! Useful and informative information.

    1 · March 13, 2013

  • Nivia St Surin H.

    PLEASE READ!
    Hello! As a heads up, the conference line supports a maximum of 20 people. So if you can make it to the onsite meeting, that would be great! There's refreshments and pizza waiting for you.

    Plus just as Marissa's policy indicated: when it comes to collaboration and good discussions, there are inherent advantages to face time over remote! :-)

    March 13, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Can we just use a conference line that supports more? Rondee is free and supports up to 50

      March 13, 2013

    • Andrew C.

      It looks like you can do unlimited with "Hangouts Air" - experimenting with it right now ... we may just use the Google Hangouts audio. Stay tuned ...

      March 13, 2013

  • Michael S.

    i'll be remote

    March 13, 2013

  • Tamella F.

    I'll be joining remotely from Pink Frog Interactive, Inc.

    March 13, 2013

  • JR

    participating Remotely - Thanks!!!

    March 13, 2013

  • Bob S.

    Hoping to be able to "attend remotely"

    1 · March 13, 2013

  • Andrew C.

    What would a presentation about working with remote teams be without a remote viewing option, eh? :)

    We are planning to have a remote option, but don't have the details yet. I will update the mailing list as soon as I know.

    1 · March 13, 2013

  • Valerie T.

    Andrew, will you be able to let some of us join this meetup remotely. I cannot attend physically, but I would like to join remotely

    March 12, 2013

  • Justin P.

    I am planning on attending remotely once that is set up :)

    1 · March 12, 2013

  • Chris N.

    Ironic question, but will this be available via WebEx or some other form of streaming?

    1 · March 11, 2013

  • Frank F

    Looking forward to it!

    March 11, 2013

  • Tamella F.

    So can you attend remotely?

    2 · March 7, 2013

  • Kim H.

    I have developers in Pgh and testers in India, so this will be illuminating for me. Thanks for organizing.

    1 · March 7, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Excited about this topic. I've worked with remote team members on multiple occasions and look forward to some new insights.

    March 7, 2013

  • Erin

    Very interested in this (my company is about 50% remote) but I work remotely from a client site about 40% of the time, and will not be in town that week. Seems like a lot of people not living in Pittsburgh but working for Pittsburgh companies could benefit from this. Any chance of allowing folks to attend remotely (via Skype/Google Hangout/etc.?)

    February 27, 2013

  • Lou Rainaldi J.

    This looks very interesting, I am going to check my calendar and see if my boss can attend also. We have team members in UK & China.

    February 21, 2013

  • Bob B.

    Working with teams in Pittsburgh, Houston, Wisconsin, and India so I definitely want to attend this one.

    January 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    As Ayan said, I'd love to see this meeting happen. I work remotely full-time with developers in several other cities so it would be great to share and hear others' experiences.

    May 9, 2012

  • Ryan C.

    My immediate team is distributed across the US and our company is global. We not only do development in a distributed team, but we operate as a distributed company.

    May 9, 2012

  • Dustin U.

    My entire team is remote. I second Ayan's recommendation.

    May 9, 2012

  • Ayan K.

    Nearly every team has some people remote. The future of work according to the Economist and recent literature will be dislocated teams. Jason and I were talking at the meetup yesterday, and would love to see this prioritized to make this happen this summer!

    May 9, 2012

  • Jonathan H.

    Is this going to be Jan 11?

    December 28, 2011

  • Jonathan H.

    very interested, is there a date/location yet?

    August 25, 2011

  • Bhagya

    I am coming

    August 15, 2011

  • David W.

    working with a team that is based in both Philadelphia and London

    June 20, 2011

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